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    #1

    "Don't remember to forget"

    The famous and beloved and revered Florence Nightingale wrote the following words to a 92-year-old friend. (She underlined two words, not I.)

    "Remember, you have promised not to ride out in the cold. Don't remember to forget."

    When I read those last four words, I was stopped right in my tracks. I asked myself: What?!

    Would someone please tell me what those four words mean in current English?


    Thank you

    Source: Mark Bostridge, Florence Nightingale (2008), Penguin Books.

  1. tzfujimino's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: "Don't remember to forget"

    "Don't remember" is equal to "forget" if I understand it correctly. "Don't remember to forget" means "Forget to forget".

    Now, the expression 'forget it' is used to emphasize that you're saying 'no' to something:
    http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionarie...rget?q=Forget+
    (Please scroll down to forget it #3.)

    So, "Forget to forget" means "I'm saying 'no' to 'to forget'".

    It's the same as "Don't forget", isn't it?

    Hmm... Forget it!

    Last edited by tzfujimino; 07-Sep-2015 at 17:56.

  2. engee30's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: "Don't remember to forget"

    TheParser, it seems to me that Florence wanted to say, 'Remember not to forget', but in a more 'complicated' way.
    I guess the two words underscored are given emphasis to by her.

  3. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: "Don't remember to forget"

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    Don't remember to forget.
    I would simply omit 'remember to', but I am not a teacher.

  4. Eckaslike's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: "Don't remember to forget"

    I think she is playing with a well known phrase: "don't forget to remember [to do something]" (i.e. Don't forget) by simply turning it around the other way. She realises it doesn't make sense and so underlines the forget to illustrate to her friend that it is humorous word-play.

    As the phrase has been turned around the other way, it now means "Don't remember", i.e. "Don't remember [to go horse riding in the cold because you've promised not to go].".

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    #6

    Re: "Don't remember to forget"

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    Thank you, Tzfujimino, Engee, Matthew Wai, and Eckaslike, very much for your thoughtful comments.

    Before I posted, I did ask "Professor Google," but I found very little.

    1. I did discover that a singer named Shakira had a video with a song entitled "Can't remember to forget you."

    a. Even I can understand that (I think). I assume that those words mean something like: I don't want to think about you, so I tell myself to forget you, but I cannot remember to forget you.

    2. Then I also discovered that someone named Bart Baker thought that it would be funny to make a parody of Shakira's song. He made a video with the title "Don't remember to forget me." (P.S. I doubt that he knew about the fact that dear Miss Nightingale had beaten him to the punch more than 100 years earlier!)

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    #7

    Re: "Don't remember to forget"

    I'm not a teacher and not a native speaker.

    I think it is a play on words. I'd try to divide the saying in two imperatives. First the positive one - "Remember to forget", second the negative one made out of that positive one with "Don't" preceding it. I read it as "Remember not to forget".

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